As an enthusiast of the great outdoors who’s enjoyed many a camping trip, I know that staying clean while camping can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. Campsite facilities range from the sublime to the downright unpleasant – sometimes there are fantastic shower blocks that make you feel like you’ve checked into a hotel, other times you’re met with facilities that might make you consider skipping a wash altogether. And of course, there are times when you’re in the heart of the wilderness with not a shower in sight.
How, then, can you maintain a level of personal hygiene that keeps you feeling fresh and ready for your outdoor adventures? Over the years, I’ve learned quite a few tricks on how to shower while camping, whether I’m pitched at a well-serviced site or roughing it out in the backcountry. Let me share these insights with you, so you can spend less time worrying about staying clean and more time immersing yourself in the wonders of the great outdoors.
Buckle up – let’s dive into the world of wilderness washing!
6 Ways to Shower While Camping
There are six ways you can shower while you’re camping and each method has its own pros and cons. You may lean towards one or two, but ultimately what works best depends on your camping style, the facilities available, and how much effort you’re willing to pit in. With a bit of planning, there’s definitely ways you can make it happen.
1. Book a Campground with Showers
The simplest and most straightforward way to ensure a shower while camping is to select a campground that offers this amenity. Showers at campgrounds range from basic, communal shower blocks to private cubicles with hot water and great water pressure. But it’s essential to remember that not all campground showers are created equal.
Some campgrounds have truly excellent facilities – clean, modern, and well-maintained, offering a level of comfort that can make your outdoor experience feel surprisingly luxurious. However, others may have somewhat less appealing shower facilities. Factors such as cleanliness, privacy, water temperature, and water pressure can vary significantly from one campground to the next.
Before you book a campground, take some time to do a bit of research. Reading reviews from other campers can provide a wealth of information. Websites like The Dyrt or Google Reviews can be invaluable resources, offering firsthand insights into the cleanliness and quality of the campground showers.
Another important consideration when booking a campground with showers is the cost. Some campgrounds include the use of shower facilities in the nightly fee, while others may charge extra for their use. In some cases, showers are coin-operated, requiring you to bring a handful of quarters to get your hot water.
Booking a campground with a shower is often the most comfortable and hassle-free option, especially for families or those new to camping. All it takes is a little planning and research to ensure that you find a campground that offers the type of shower facilities that will meet your needs and enhance your camping experience.
However, it’s worth noting that during peak times, campground showers can be busy, so patience might be necessary. And always remember to pack a pair of flip-flops or shower shoes to keep your feet off the communal shower floor, and a caddy to carry your toiletries!
2. Use a Portable Shower
During my wilderness expeditions in the beautiful landscapes of Colorado and the West, I’ve often found myself in places with little to no amenities. In these cases, one of my go-to solutions for maintaining cleanliness has been to use a portable shower.
In particular, a solar shower bag has always been a staple in my camping gear. It’s a simple, practical tool that has served me well time and again. What I do is fill it up with water in the morning, lay it out under the sun, and by the time I’m back from my day’s adventure, I’ve got a bag of warm water ready for a refreshing shower. It’s a small luxury, but after a long day of hiking, it can really make a world of difference.
What’s great about these solar shower bags is that they don’t take up much room in my camping gear storage when they’re not filled with water. Plus, the more advanced ones come with handy features, like a temperature gauge and an adjustable showerhead. With these, I can control the water flow, helping me conserve water, especially when I’m camping in areas with a limited water supply.
On my travels, I’ve also seen fellow campers using portable shower units and roof rack shower systems. While I haven’t personally used these, they seem to offer a higher level of convenience and comfort, especially the ones with built-in heaters and electric pumps for improved water pressure.
Regardless of the method, one important thing I always bear in mind is to respect the environment. This means using biodegradable soap and setting up my shower tent at least 200 feet from any water sources to prevent any potential contamination. Follow the Leave No Trace Principles at all times.
Examples of portable showers:
- Shower Bag – doesn’t require any batteries or charging but the bag can be hard to hang above you.
- Portable Shower Bag and Sprayer Attachment – easier to use but requires batteries or recharging.
- NEMO Portable Camp Shower – more expensive and the best balance of price and benefit.
- Yakima RoadShower Roof Rack Attachment – quite a bit more expensive to start but offers the best of both worlds.
3. Truck Stop Showers
Now, let’s explore an option that isn’t necessarily my top choice but is definitely worth considering, especially during long road trips – Truck Stop Showers.
During my travels, I’ve come across many truck stops scattered along major highways and interstates. These places aren’t just for truckers; they offer a variety of services to all travelers, including hot showers. Many of these truck stops, like those operated by large chains such as Pilot Flying J and Loves, keep their facilities quite clean and offer private shower rooms with plenty of hot water, towels, and basic toiletries.
While the experience may lack the rustic charm of a sun-warmed, outdoor shower, it can be a real lifesaver when you’ve been on the road for a while and you need a hot shower, or when the weather isn’t cooperating with your solar shower bag plans.
There is usually a nominal fee involved, but in my experience, the comfort and convenience these truck stop showers provide can often justify the cost. It’s a reliable and effective option, particularly during those long drives to reach your next camping destination.
Just remember to pack a pair of flip flops for hygiene purposes and be courteous to other users by keeping your shower time efficient, especially during busy times. These truck stop showers may not be your go-to solution every time, but they can be a solid backup option to keep in mind on your camping journeys.
Pro Tip: Use apps like iOverlander to find nearby shower facilities of all kinds.
4. Recreation Facilities
Recreation facilities are another great option that I have often used and found to be far preferable to truck stops, even though they can be a bit pricier. These facilities, which include community centers, public pools, and some fitness centers, often have shower facilities available for use. For a nominal fee, you can access these facilities and enjoy a nice hot shower.
In many cases, there’s a shower-only fee that is lower than the regular day use or drop-in fee. This makes it an attractive option when you want to freshen up mid-journey or at the end of a camping trip.
I remember once after a week-long camping trip in the Rockies, I found a local recreation center and paid for a shower. The fee was a bit higher than I would normally spend, but after a week of hiking, fishing, and living the rustic life, let me tell you, that shower was worth every penny.
The warm water, the clean, private space, and the chance to rinse off a week’s worth of grit was simply priceless. Afterward, I felt rejuvenated, refreshed, and ready for the next leg of my journey. It’s these little moments of comfort and self-care that can make a world of difference on an extended camping trip.
So if you’re on a road trip and passing through a town or city, check if there are any recreation facilities available. It could be a game changer for you as it has been for me on numerous occasions. And hey, you might even get a workout in while you’re there!
Pro tip: if you frequently travel and are on the road, consider getting a cheap, monthly membership at a nation-wide gym like Planet Fitness.
5. Sponge Bath
As much as I love a good swim or shower under the sun, there have been plenty of times when these options were simply not feasible. Enter: the humble sponge bath, a simple but effective way to get clean while camping. This has been a reliable fall-back for me, especially during those longer backcountry adventures or when camping in arid areas without much water access.
Here’s how I usually do it: I heat up a small amount of water, then I add it to a basin or large bowl with some cold water until it’s a comfortable temperature. Using a sponge or washcloth and biodegradable soap, I wash myself down, focusing on key areas like the face, armpits, and feet. It’s not as thorough as a traditional shower, but it gets the job done!
And a bonus, this method is super low-impact and follows Leave No Trace principles beautifully. It uses less water than a full shower and, as long as you’re 200 feet away from any water source and scatter the used water, it’s a good choice for keeping clean while also keeping the environment clean.
So while it might not be my first choice after a long day of hiking, the sponge bath has certainly had my back when I needed it most. Simple, effective, and environmentally conscious – not bad for a washcloth and a bit of water!
6. Shower in Nature
Now, this one takes me back to some of my most memorable camping experiences. If you’re camping near a lake, river, or ocean, taking a dip can be a refreshing way to clean up, albeit in a more rustic and nature-oriented way. But remember, it’s crucial to follow Leave No Trace principles, which means using no soap and keeping a reasonable distance from the water source when washing up if you do use soap.
Once on a summer backpacking trip Colorado, I found a stunningly clear alpine river nestled between towering peaks. After a long day of hiking, a quick swim in the cool, refreshing water felt like the best shower in the world. Of course, it’s important to remember that this method depends entirely on the local conditions. In colder climates or seasons, a lake or river “shower” might be more of a quick dip!
Just remember, your safety is the priority. Never swim alone, especially in unfamiliar bodies of water, and be cautious of currents in rivers. If you’re in high alpine areas, don’t just into water that could be fed by snow melt – it can be too cold and can end up being dangerous. And of course, respect the local wildlife. We’re guests in their home, after all.
There’s something truly freeing about bathing in the great outdoors, surrounded by natural beauty. It can be a bit brisk, but in the right conditions, it’s an experience that can’t be beat.
7. Body Wipes
And then we have the often overlooked body wipes. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that body wipes aren’t as satisfying as standing under a warm shower or immersing yourself in a cool lake. But hear me out: they’re undeniably convenient, especially when you’re short on time, water, or the energy to set up a more involved shower system.
In my experience, these pre-moistened wipes are perfect for tidying up before sliding into my sleeping bag, or for freshening up mid-day when I’m out hiking. All it takes is a quick swipe to get rid of that top layer of dirt and sweat, making me feel surprisingly refreshed. They’re particularly handy for areas prone to chaffing – a quick clean can do wonders for comfort on the trail.
When choosing body wipes, I always make sure to go for the biodegradable options (like these Dude Wipes). Remember, even though they’re biodegradable, they should be packed out and not left in the wilderness. The beauty of camping is being in nature, and we want to keep it as pristine as possible.
I’ve found that having a pack of body wipes on hand can really bridge the gap between shower days, helping to keep me feeling clean and comfortable. Just remember, while they’re a great addition to your camping hygiene kit, they don’t replace a good old-fashioned rinse when you can manage it!
Essential Showering Supplies
For a comfy camp trip, get the right showering stuff. Here’s what you need:
- Biodegradable Soap – Eco-friendly biodegradable soap for skin and zero trace.
- Quick-Drying Towel – A lightweight, quick-drying towel to save space in your backpack.
- Mesh Shower Caddy – to bring your toiletries into the bathroom.
- Toilet Paper – Always pack toilet paper, even if there’s a bathroom that’s supposed to have some.
In the world of camping, cleanliness may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but trust me, it significantly impacts your overall outdoor experience. Feeling clean and refreshed, even in the heart of the wilderness, can boost your spirits and keep you comfortable on longer trips.
Showering while camping might sound like an oxymoron to the uninitiated, but as we’ve explored, there are quite a few methods you can employ to stay clean on the trails. From campgrounds with showers to portable setups, truck stops, recreation facilities, all the way down to a simple sponge bath or biodegradable body wipes, the choice really depends on your individual needs, preferences, and the nature of your trip.
Don’t be afraid to mix and match these methods, either! Sometimes, a quick wipe-down is enough, but other days you might be pining for a full-on shower under the sun. It’s all part of the adventure that camping provides.
So next time you head out, remember these options and consider what will work best for your camping shower needs. A little planning and the right gear can ensure you stay fresh and enjoy your time outdoors to the fullest.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I shower while camping?
To shower while camping, you can use various methods depending on your preferences and available resources. Some options include using portable camping showers, bathing in a river or lake, using body wipes, or utilizing amenities at campgrounds that have shower facilities.
Where can I shower when camping?
You can find places to shower while camping in different locations. Many campgrounds provide shower facilities that campers can use. Additionally, some recreational areas and national parks may offer shower facilities as well. Alternatively, you can bring portable showers and set them up in areas with privacy, such as behind trees or in a shower tent.
What should I use to take a shower when camping?
When camping, you can use different items to take a shower. Portable camping showers often come with a water bag or tank, hose, and showerhead. Some people opt for solar showers that utilize the sun’s energy to heat the water in a bag with a showerhead. Additionally, you can also consider using wet wipes, biodegradable soap, and a basin for a makeshift bucket shower.
How often should I shower while camping?
The frequency of showering while camping depends on personal preference and circumstances. Factors to consider include the availability of shower facilities, the weather conditions, and the level of physical activity. Some people may prefer to shower daily, while others may shower every few days. Remember to be mindful of water conservation, especially in areas with limited water resources.
Can I take a hot shower while camping?
Yes, you can take a hot shower while camping. If you have a portable camping shower with a heating option, you can heat the water before showering. Solar showers use the sun’s energy to warm the water naturally. Additionally, some campgrounds offer hot water in their shower facilities. However, it’s essential to check if hot water is available or plan accordingly for heating options.